Christmas morning in Old Court
That Christmas morning we awoke earlier than usual under the watchful eyes of mother. “Mother of Perpetual Succour” that is. There was more excitement that morning than usual, even for Christmas. Father had to borrow next door’s alarm clock- one with a big bell on top and of course we were awake to hear it ring. As a dairyman, father could not enjoy the luxury of a lie-in, even on Christmas morning. Cows still had to be milked. But first, there was Mass. 6.15 a.m. The first Mass of Christmas.
That morning we all went. The excitement of getting ready by lamplight and setting out by moonlight on a cold frosty morning. Following the moon, which seemed to have replaced the star and arriving in a fairytale village, illuminated as it was by the only street lighting we had ever seen and basking in the light of the moon which had come to rest over the village Church. Entering the Church to the strains of Adeste Fideles being sung by a heavenly choir, we made our way to seats as near the crib as possible. But not father. Barely inside the door, dressed for work, head bowed and kneeling on one knee, looking for all the world like a shepherd straight out of the crib scene.
6.15 Mass was for us a novelty but not for father. He would be here next Sunday as he was last Sunday and all the other Sundays of his life. Mass ended and having visited the crib, we returned home in the early morning light. Father had already slipped silently away. Much later, having attended to his duties, he returned home as excited as any child who believed in “Santa Claus”. For him and mother this Christmas was special. After years of war, hardship and heartache, they had all their family together – all eleven of them. On that day, they felt that Our Lady had been listening and that all their prayers were answered.
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